The Citizen Handbook

The Constitution of Kenya, 2010: The People’s Power

The Constitution of Kenya, 2010: My Constitution, My Future

Environment & Natural Resources

The Environment is the space in which we live and operate – whether it is the office, street, village, sea, or forest. Whatever one's daily surroundings may be, every citizen has the right to an environment that is healthy, clean, safe from pollution and protected from destruction.

The Constitution includes provisions to ensure that citizens have a sustainable environment that they are also required to protect. The Constitution ensures that the use of our country’s natural resources benefit citizens, investors as well as the overall environment.

The Constitution delegates to the State the responsibility of managing several aspects of the country’s environment and natural resources. This includes a requirement for the State to maintain a national tree cover of at least ten per cent. Our country's current tree cover is approximately 2.3 per cent, which means that it will take hard work on the part of the government and all of us Kenyans to achieve and maintain this goal. Finally, the government is required to utilize the environment and natural resources for the benefit of the people of Kenya and not just a particular group of people or geographic area.

Protecting our Natural Resources

Like many other countries, Kenya is working to benefit from its natural resources such as oil, minerals, forests, geothermal energy, mangroves, etc. The Constitution requires Parliament to be fully involved in the negotiation of agreements pertaining to the use of our country’s natural resources and/or the environment. Specifically, Parliament must approve any transaction involving the granting of rights to the management of any natural resource in the country to any individual or entity. In other words, Parliament must approve any use of our natural resources.

Members of Parliament should be accountable and support the progress of the nation as a whole. This quality of our leaders will ensure that laws enacted do not end up enriching wealthy elite while impoverishing the majority of the population in our country. Citizens must also be vigilant when it comes to the use of natural resources to ensure that it is in line with the constitutional prescriptions for sustainable land management.

Application & Implication

Every citizen has a responsibility to ensure that our country’s natural resources are managed in such a way that it benefits all Kenyans. The constitution also grants citizens the right and ability to enforce a healthy and sustainable environment. Specifically, citizens can apply to the court to seek action when others, including the government, infringe upon, threaten, and violate these rights. This type of citizen action can help to protect our environment.

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